On 7th of June, Bangkok-based free-lance journalist Lisa Gardner organized a symposium to discuss the issue of the lèse-majesté law in Thailand. Journalists Pravit Rojanapreuk of The Nation and Andrew McGregor Marshall, who famously resigned his position at Reuters to publish the Wikileaks telegrams concerning the Thai monarchy, as well as the political scientist Benedict Anderson and the Thai writer Sulak Sivaraksa, participated to this panel called “Rhetoric and Dissent”. Following is the complete contribution of Benedict Anderson.Photo : Benedict Anderson at the symposium « Rhetoric and Dissent » (c) Yan Martel The “solid monarchies”, the ones we are likely to see around for 40, 50 years, all do have lèse-majesté laws, but these laws are more or less not in use at all. You can find jokes in British medias on the royal family, some not very friendly, but the institution is strong enough that people who wants to laugh laugh, and that is it. It is striking that the lèse-majesté laws increase in harshness as the monarchy is afraid. It is striking that in Europe, the country with the harshest lèse-majesté law is Spain, and the reason is that there is a huge scandal going on now which has reached the point where many journalists have said that it is time that the king abdicates. Abdication is the best way for the monarchy to stay if it has undesirable member. In the present crisis, the Spanish royal family does not dare to put people in jail for lèse-majesté, because the scandals that have opened are out of the control even of Spain. The king is notorious for a long time to go on very long vacations, very expensive, at the expense of tax payers with no information of where the vacations were and who went with him.